words - Gary Howard
Pacific Sportfish? If you're a fisherman, and particularly a sportsfisherman, the name is sure to be at least a little familiar

Still need a little help? Try dropping the Pacific part of the title... A respected manufacturer of plate aluminium boats until a recent change of ownership, the company was known simply as Sportfish.

Now based at Redcliffe on Brisbane's north side, the new company has quickly earned a reputation for building serious sportsfishing machines. In fact, it seems that while the Sportfish name has been around for some years now, it has only been enhanced by the new set-up.

That Pacific Sportfish builds a number of family-style plate boats has not changed. In fact, two of the company's most popular configurations are its 'off the rack' Centre Console and Centre Cab versions, which are available in a number of sizes.

However, with its extensive fishing background, Pacific Sportfish can and does customise craft to suit individual needs. So enters its Tournament versions - boats, as the name suggests, ready for the serious sportsfisherman and light game proponent.

One of the major retail suppliers of Pacific Sportfish is Brisbane-based Northside Marine. Greg Nickerson and his Northside sales team have stocked Sportfish boats for many years prior to the formation of the new company, and have advised on the layout development of the new boats.

Nickerson says many of the extras regularly asked for by customers are now standard items on the new Pacific Sportfish rigs. With the Tournament a cut above the regular optioned-up Pacific Sportfish spec, it's no wonder they are some of the best decked-out plate alloy boats anglers are likely to come across.

Northside Marine's pride and joy at the moment is the latest 5.8m Tournament Centre Cab. As one of my passions is sportsfishing and sportsfishing boats, an opportunity to take the pristine blue and white rig out for a run chasing tuna on Moreton Bay (Qld) was too good to pass up.

To cut a long story short, my experience with the Tournament is that it is certainly a top-flight performer. I will even stick my neck out and say that it's the best mid-sized trailerboat I have used for this type of fishing.

Looking at the general architecture of the 5.8m, it's clear that the cabin is located slightly forward of midships. This has distinct advantages: not only does it provide a substantial, uncluttered aft cockpit with no shortage of room to move about; but it also allows for the inclusion of a raised platform forward - an ideal spot for casting to timid surface-feeding fish.

The boat's bow rails are substantial, but the elevated position on the casting platform enables anglers to work well clear of any interference from the rails.

The bow section of the boat is also reasonably high, so anglers have a height advantage when casting from the platform.

The Tournament's deep bow section proved particularly good in rough conditions. There were never any worries that it would bog down into the sea and shoot water up and over the bow platform.

The ability to drive the boat from outside the centre cab is also a big plus. With the clear weather curtains removed, I could easily lean into the cab, adjust the throttle and steer. This allowed me to quickly slip up to the bow and cast at the schooling fish we were chasing.

Pacific Sportfish can provide sleeping facilities in the cab and the general depth of the bow and height of the raised platform allows room for twin V-berths below. Even if this area is not used for sleeping, it is ideal for keeping accessories, eskies, tackle boxes and the like out of the way.

The cab features two swivel seats mounted on alloy cupboards which house large marine batteries. The cab area is spacious and well ventilated, yet sufficiently sheltered to remain bad weather friendly.

The transom area, commonly used in other designs of this size to house batteries, has two large tackle hatches which together hold a mountain of gear.

This factory-fitted optional set-up has the potential to be a great place to keep equipment. Unfortunately the demo boat's hatches leaked. Drips aside, my preferred option would be to leave the batteries in their conventional position and fit a couple of smaller tackle hatches in the protected area under the seats.

A large wet kill-tank is provided under the floor of the aft cockpit and can be flooded by opening the inlet valve under the floor. Various options are presented by this set-up - the tank can be kept wet or dry or can be flooded at rest and drained each time the boat runs.

The 5.8m Centre Cab's transom is quite a good working area. As tested there was a livebait tank, berley bucket, bait and rigging station and a deckwash, all concealed or built into the transom as standard equipment in the Tournament version.

Side pockets run from the stern to the side of the centre cab. A slot has been left in the front of these side pockets so anglers can slip longer rods and gaffs into them. Not that there is a shortage of rod storage - again in the case of the Tournament version, the Centre Cab boasts four holders in the overhead rocket launcher, four mounted on the sides of the bait board and four in the gunwales of the boat.

Other items offered as standard equipment on the top-of-the-line Tournament version of the 5.8 (the standard 5.8 Centre Cab package retails at $36,500 - $5495 less than the Tournament) include anchor tubes, fixed frame bimini, GME 27meg radio and full instrumentation package, compass, nav and cabin lights, Racor fuel filter, dual batteries and isolator as well as an uprated trailer.

Like most of Pacific Sportfish's craft, the 5.8 Centre Cab is solidly constructed. Plate alloy 4mm thick is used for the hull's bottom and sides and there's 6mm sheet used for the frames and transom.

Its variable deadrise hull has tapered planing strakes, fine entry and a deep bow foot. This hull configuration means the boat handles choppy conditions admirably. The variable deadrise provides a good, smooth ride and an adequate planing surface. All this makes for a very efficient hull.

The 5.8m mounts its powerplant on an extension bracket, rather than a pod. On either side of the motor there's standard duckboards, one of which features a boarding ladder.

Our testboat was fitted with a 115hp 60° V-four Johnson outboard which provided sufficient power and acceleration.

The set cruised happily at around 70kmh.

The advantage of this package is that it's very economical to run - especially for a boat offering this sort of deck space and versatility. Average (cruise) fuel consumption with this combination is around 15 litres per hour. With 180 litres of fuel on board, that's a lot of zipping around.

It would be unfair to finish off this report without mentioning the quality finish of the 5.8 Centre Cab.

Alloy boats have long been considered the poorer, and perhaps uglier, cousins of the Australian marine industry but the two-pack epoxy paintwork and general finish of the 5.8m Tournament Centre Cab is among the best I have come across.

For the family fisherman who wants an economical but classy package, at around $36,500, Pacific Sportfish's 5.8m Centre Cab offers great value. Mind you, if you're serious about your fishing, the $41,995 Tournament takes some beating.

Price as tested $45,090
Factory options fitted
Deluxe paint ($420); Built-in tackle boxes ($630); Relocated batteries ($260); Outriggers ($790); Lowrance X85 sounder ($995)
Base price (w/115hp) $36,500
Material: Aluminium
Type: Variable deadrise mono
Deadrise (at transom): 18°
Length: 5.8m
Beam: 2.4m
Weight (hull only): 610kg
Fuel capacity: 180lt
Max rated hp: 150hp
Engine (as tested)
Make/model: Johnson Ocean Runner
Rated hp: 115hp
Type: V-four, two-stroke
Displacement: 1726cc
Weight: 152kg
Supplied by Northside Marine, Brisbane (Qld), tel (07) 3269 0011
All figures per manufacturer's specifications.
As tested and base prices include trailers unless otherwise stated.

Published : Wednesday, 1 October 1997

Prices and specifications supplied are for the market in Australia only and were correct at time of first publication. Automotive Data Services Pty Ltd (Redbook) makes no warranty as to the accuracy of specifications or prices. Please check with manufacturer or local dealer for current pricing and specifications.